Volume LIIIAugust 2006Number 3

Masonic Book Reviews to Peruse
by Cathy Giaimo, Assistant Librarian, The Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania

Biographies are a great way to learn more about the people you admire (or not), their strengths and weaknesses and what events made them into the people history remembers. The Library recently added two such books to its growing collection.

"Execution Denied: the story of Marshal Ney" by H.H. (Pete) Bradshaw (B/N5695/B8195). Marshal Michel Ney was one of Napoleon Bonaparte's "bravest of the brave," a brilliant tactician whose rise through the ranks of the French military was extraordinary and whose life and career embodied the values of the French Republic. When Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and exiled to St. Helena, the heroic Ney was arrested and put to death by firing squad. Or was he? Mr. Bradshaw tells an intriguing tale of betrayal, secrecy and of one Masonic brother (the Duke of Wellington) assisting another brother (Marshal Ney) in escaping France and creating a new life in the United States.

Though this is styled as historical fiction, Mr. Bradshaw has done extensive research on Ney's life before 1815 and after 1822 when a Peter S. Ney appears in North Carolina. The seven years Ney spent as a fugitive may always remain a mystery, for what records he kept were encoded and disappeared after his death in 1846. Mr. Bradshaw has imaginatively used actual events and people to create a story as close to the truth as he could get.

"American Gunfight: the plot to kill Harry Truman" by Stephen Hunter and John Bainbridge, Jr. (B/T8675/H9475). It is doubtful that many people today remember the events that unfolded on Nov. 1, 1950. On that hot Wednesday afternoon, two Puerto Rican Nationalists, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, attempted to assassinate Bro. and President Truman while he was living in Blair House. After the shoot-out, one White House policeman lay dead, two other law enforcement officers were injured and one would-be assassin was mortally wounded.

Stephen Hunter and John Bainbridge, Jr. have written a dramatic story. Had the assassination succeeded, U.S. history would have been different. The events leading up to that fateful day and the lives that were forever changed have been investigated by the two authors. They have brought to light a much different story than was believed at the time. Not only have they written about the American side of the story, but also the events happening in Puerto Rico, as well as the ideals and politics of the two Nationalists and what led them to act as they did. As a little side note, Leslie Coffelt, the lone policeman killed in the line of duty was a proud Mason, member of Potomac Lodge No. 5, Washington, D.C.

There are many other biographies of prominent Masons available to borrow from the Library. Check the Circulating Library at www.pagrandlodge.org , or call (800) 462-0430, Ext. 1933, to see if your favorite Mason has a biography available.


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